AP/PHIL2020 3.0 A: Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz
Calendar Description / Prerequisite / Co-Requisite
The works of Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz are crucial building blocks of our contemporary understanding of the world. This course examines their work. Course credit exclusions: GL/PHIL 2620 6.00.
Professor Jim Vernon
Office Location: S427 Ross Building
Phone Number: (416) 736-2100 Ext. 33519
Office Hours: TBA
This course is an introduction to the philosophical thought of the three most important rationalist philosophers of the seventeenth century: Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz. We will examine and discuss their solutions to the following problems of metaphysics and epistemology: the nature of reality, innate ideas, the foundations of knowledge, the existence of God, the relation between reason and emotion, the mind-body problem, and why there is order rather than chaos.
- R. Descartes, Discourse on Method; Meditations on First Philosophy. Trans. by D.A. Cress (Indianapolis: Hackett).
- B. Spinoza, Ethics; Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect; Selected Letters. Trans. by S. Shirley, ed. by S. Feldman (Indianapolis: Hackett).
- G.W. Leibniz, Discourse on Metaphysics and Other Essays. Ed. and trans. by D. Garber and R. Ariew (Indianapolis: Hackett).
Mid-term exam 25%
Term Paper 35%
Take-Home Final Exam 40%
Reading/lecture schedule TBA, but will begin with Descartes and end with Leibniz.
The course is designed as a combination of lecture and discussion. Please do all the assigned readings, be prepared to discuss them, and bring the text to class with you. There will be a moodle website; by department policy, the take home exam and the final essay must be submitted to turnitin.com.
- Students should be able to interpret and critically appraise arguments from the rationalist tradition, and present their results in a clear and compelling written form.
Students should be able to compare and evaluate the basic arguments of the central authors in the early modern rationalist tradition of Western philosophy.
- Academic Honesty
- Student Rights and Responsibilities
- Religious Observance
- Grading Scheme and Feedback
- 20% Rule
No examinations or tests collectively worth more than 20% of the final grade in a course will be given during the final 14 calendar days of classes in a term. The exceptions to the rule are classes which regularly meet Friday evenings or on Saturday and/or Sunday at any time, and courses offered in the compressed summer terms.
- Academic Accommodation for Students with Disabilities